“Come Back, Little Sheba” is an uncomplicated tale of familial dysfunction currently receiving a riveting production from the Huntington Theatre Company.
Though Doc and Lola’s humdrum existence takes place in a simpler time, (before the invention of television), their struggles are certainly relevant today. The long-married Midwestern couple seems resigned to their fate until their obsession with Marie, a boarder they’ve taken in, shakes their world to its core.
The pretty, young coed with a hearty sexual appetite is everything they used to be. But time hasn’t been kind and the aging couple whose best days are clearly behind them struggles with alcoholism, loneliness and despair.
Director David Cromer’s masterful attention to detail makes it easy to get swept away by this gut-wrenching story. Every inch of the close-quartered, cluttered set is covered in period-perfect details like a spoon rack, a dish of butterscotch candies and a percolating coffee pot.
Similarly, every movement of this stellar ensemble, whether making coffee, setting the dinner table or sneaking a peek where you shouldn’t be looking, feels purposeful and authentic.
Adrianne Krstansky delivers an extraordinary performance as the socially awkard, pitiable Lola. The quiet desperation with which she tries to invite anyone she meets into her sad, lonely world is heartbreaking. But little details, like the way she flops on the couch to listen to the radio and the curious gaze when she watches Marie sketch her nearly-naked lover Turk, are what make her performance truly remarkable.
Though Krstanksy sets the bar pretty high, the others prove to be up to the task. Derek Hasenstab’s superb portrayal of Doc nicely avoids taking his alcohol relapse over the top, while Marie Polizzano is equally impressive as Marie.
In a small but pivotal role, Maureen Keiller brings incredible depth and dimension, (and an spot on German accent), to next door neighbor Mrs. Coffman.
If you go
“Come Back, Little Sheba”
Through May 2
Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston
Starting at $25